On Saturday July 13, I went to my third Big D&E City of Dickinson auction. I didn’t like it, I had a terrible time, and I will never go to another auction again in the Dickinson area, hopefully.
Big D&E auction is a local auction service owned by Delvin and Eddie Praus. Only about 30% of my miserable time at the City of Dickinson auction was due to Delvin, Eddie, their wives, and their other family members who run the auction. Mostly, it was the Dickinson townsfolk that made the auction a pointless, unpleasant, waste of time.
Every year, the City of Dickinson will sell at auction, items that are no longer being used, are no longer needed, are obsolete, are worn out, or have been recovered by the Dickinson Police Department. These items typically include: furniture, computers, hand tools, bicycles, cars, and trucks.
Each year, I would like to go to this auction to buy a few of the abandoned bicycles that have been collected by the Dickinson Police. So far, I have bought about five mountain bicycles at these City of Dickinson auctions, and I have given away four of them after fixing them.
At this year’s auction, I wanted to buy a couple of mountain bicycles if I could, and a retired Dickinson Police Department Ford Crown Victoria, if I could. For the past two years, I have had to drive about 26,000 miles each year to and from my work location outside of Dickinson, in my personal vehicle. I was willing to pay up to $1,800 for one of the two Ford Crown Victorias that were up for auction, for something to put a lot of miles on that didn’t cost a lot.
I arrived at 8:30 a.m. to look at everything that was there, to look closely at what I wanted to bid on, and decide how much I was willing to pay. The miscellaneous items up for auction, were laid out in an orderly, organized fashion at the City of Dickinson Public Works Building parking lot. At 9:30 a.m., Big D&E started out with small miscellaneous items that had been recovered by the Dickinson Police: clothing, electronics, backpacks, etc. The first lot took about thirty minutes.
I believe that Big D&E went to the hand tools and power tools next. This lot took about forty-five minutes. What I noticed this year, and the two previous years, is that the people in Dickinson take the bidding price up to, or close to, what you could go buy the item for, new at Runnings, Tractor Supply, Menards, or Wal-Mart.
I try to stay out of the bidding, unless it is something that I really want, because the people in Dickinson take the bidding up to what you could buy the item for new at the store, even though these are used items, that you can’t always tell if something is wrong with it or if it doesn’t work.
By about 11:45 a.m, they got to some laptop computers, notebook computers, and tablet computers. I bid on a couple of the laptop computers, but I was outbid. The prices that were paid for these used laptop computers, were what you could buy one on the internet for with its hardware and operating system identified, whereas these laptops at the auction you didn’t even know if they worked at all.
By about 12:15 p.m. they got to the bicycles, which they divided into groups of six bicycles, highest bidder gets first choice out of the six up for bid. I was outbid for every bicycle that I wanted, until the very last group of six, and I was outbid again for the first choice, but the bicycle that I wanted wasn’t picked. The only bicycle that I got, was fourth on my preference list, and I paid $35.
I unintentionally outbid some poor kid for this Mongoose Mountain Bicycle at $35, I found out later, so I got his address, and after the auction I went home, picked up, and dropped off my red color Mongoose Mountain Bicycle that was too small for me, at this kid’s house.
At a little past 12:30 p.m., they started auctioning the cars and trucks. This is when I was talking to this hippie guy who had bought a nice, but older, men’s street bicycle, and I was complimenting him on it, when he told me that I had bought the mountain bicycle that his son had wanted. I was talking to this guy during the auction of the first four vehicles, not paying attention.
I had to quit talking, to begin paying attention to how the people were bidding on the vehicles, as they got closer to the two Ford Crown Victorias that I wanted to bid on. The higher mileage Crown Victoria was bid on first, and I was quickly outbid, the car sold for $3,600.
I was angry. I had gotten there at 8:30 a.m. to look everything over. It was very, very hot outside in the asphalt parking lot, with no good place to sit. I was there for five hours, waiting to bid on this Ford Crown Victoria. If I had known that the Dickinsonians were going to bid this car up to what you could buy it for at a car lot or from a private seller, I wouldn’t have even come to this auction.
I had looked all through this Crown Victoria, and I read its service record. In 2016, the Police Officer that was assigned this car kept hearing a loud “clunk” in the driveline. The fleet mechanic test drove it, he could hear the “clunk” too, but he couldn’t find what it was, so this car was only driven for another 1,000 miles between 2016 to 2018.
The service record showed that this Crown Victoria had had its oil changed at a little over a 10,000 mile interval. O.K., maybe it was synthetic oil, but for a Police car, in 10,000 miles, how many thousands of hours was it parked with the engine idling?
This was not a pristine car, this was a questionable car, that was not started, and was not test-driven by anyone. Why would you bid this car up to $3,600 at auction? Before any know-nothing starts saying, “It’s that Police Interceptor motor”, it’s only a 230 hp to 250 hp motor in a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
I went over to Delvin and Eddie Praus’ wives at the sign-in trailer to pay for my $35 bicycle, and they didn’t have any record of me bidding or getting this bicycle. They didn’t say, “Wait just a minute, we will get this sorted out” or “We will straighten this out”, it was more like, looks like you’re out of luck.
I didn’t know if I was going to leave with this bicycle and not pay for it, or pay for it later, or just drop it there and walk off. Delvin and Eddie couldn’t sort this out while they were still auctioning off the high dollar items like vehicles and equipment trailers. Luckily, eventually, one of the Praus family members came over to the sign-in trailer and he remembered me.
In summary, it was very, very hot, in the asphalt parking lot, with no good place to sit down. I was there for over five hours, and it was a pointless, waste of time. The people in Dickinson bid most of the used auction items up to a price that you could go buy the same thing new at the store. Or, if you had wanted any of these used auction items, you could have bought them at any time on the internet with some assurance from the seller that they worked, whereas the condition of these used auction items was unknown, especially the power tools, electronics, and computers which were not turned on or plugged in.
Regarding the vehicles, if you were willing to pay what you could buy these vehicles at a car lot or from a private seller, why not do that, where you could ask the seller questions, start the vehicle, drive the vehicle, or take it to get a pre-purchase inspection done by a mechanic? There is some risk in buying a vehicle from an auction without starting it, test driving it, getting it inspected, or being able to ask questions, so you shouldn’t pay very much money for it, you’re not sure what you are getting.
I will not go to any more auctions in this area, because for the people in Dickinson, an auction is like an event, game, or competition where they can be a spectator and a participant. You’re an idiot if you stand out in the sun in an asphalt parking for hours trying to buy used things that you could have gotten new at the store for the same price, or could have gotten from a private seller after determining that the thing works.